Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the Christian left, words of faith and love and hypocrisy ~

A short while ago, a Facebook page called ‘The Christian Left’ asked its members to help support a FB ad. There was an innocuous ad:

Are you a Christian? Are you a Liberal or a Progressive too?

Do you feel alone in the ‘Conservative Christian’ world?

Join us.

However, FB pulled it. “Negative user feedback.” The idea that you can be Christian — follow the words of Jesus, believe in Christian salvation, and support liberal ideology — is antithetical to conservative, fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. Who seem to have the airwaves these days.


I don’t get it. My beginner’s heart hurts over this one. The same way it hurts when people justify homophobia, or racism, or Islamophobia through Biblical text. It’s the worst, most dangerous kind of cherry-picking. And it seems, to this Unitarian Buddhist who was raised in a traditional Christian home w/ years of vacation Bible school and Sundays w/ Mr. Morris (my long-time Sunday school teacher :), flat wrong.

Even if you believe in an historical Jesus, and are a devout Christian, the actual Bible was written by men (really — no women :(). It was edited, reworked, revised and translated by men. All human, all fallible. Even if you believe in divine inspiration, all of it — each word, each punctuation mark — was filtered through the infinitely flawed persons involved. Not one himself perfect.


And it’s such a complex, contradictory text. If you want to look to Leviticus for words against homosexuality, you have to take the rest of Leviticus as well. And really? We don’t want to… But Paul isn’t much better — rife w/ contradiction, spelling out in detail sexism, racism, and homophobia. Do we want to return to a time when women couldn’t cut their hair or speak in church, when slaves were acceptable, when widows couldn’t remarry…? In other words, we choose what we will follow from both the Old Christian Testament and the New Christian Testament. And far too little of what we choose is loving, these days…

You may think a Buddhist shouldn’t worry about such things. But Unitarians — and Buddhists — believe in the unity of all belief, of all beings. Every faith is a ladder to whatever home we all return to, if indeed we return :). It’s all different rooms in the same house, I used to tell my sons when they were small. If you want to dismiss and ridicule the various laws of the Qur’an as a Christian — and I know several Christians who, cloaked in ‘religion,’ do just that — several laws in Leviticus are at least as punitive and ridiculous. Be wary, Matthew says, of the log in your own eye, hypocrite…


My beginner’s heart grieves when I hear people defend a homophobic agenda — one that preaches hatred of dear friends, family members and wonderful colleagues.  That it’s clothed in a Jacob’s coat of colourful religious belief is even darker, and far worse. I can’t imagine the historical Jesus or the Christian Jesus preaching hatred of anyone. When organisations w/ honourable pasts, and admirable names, make statements like gays are responsible for Adolf Hitler, his Brown Shirts, and the Holocaust, I wonder what  Jesus they believe in. Certainly not the one who loved all the little children in my VBS class, even the gay ones. And not the black ones, according to several ostensibly Christian churches — racist Christianity is known as ‘Christian Identity.’ One presidential front-runner’s church even labeled the Pope as the Antichrist


So when the Christian Left has its ad yanked from Facebook because of ‘negative user feedback,’ you have to wonder: who doesn’t think Jesus believed in clothing the poor, feeding the hungry and being good Samaritans? Who has a problem w/ treating everyone w/ loving kindness? What’s wrong with believing that the Jesus who likened the rich man getting to heaven as a camel going through the eye of a needle, would have real problems w/ current corporate behaviours…? And if you do believe that hatred, class warfare, racism and homophobia are Biblically sanctioned, how do you call those fears Christianity…?

  • CitizensArrested

    It’s quite simple, the pseudo religious right operates as if they OWN god, as if they have a copyright on the truth.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      It feels so unpleasant, to have Christianity turned into a weapon of hurt…

  • Sara Huizenga

    I’m experiencing this hideous backlash from the religious right currently as well.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      I am so sorry, Sara.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kristen B

    No one is perfect! All humans have weaknesses. We aren’t gods. We are mortal blobs of cellular tissue and energy.

    People seemingly have forgotten that. Kudos on this post!

    It reminds me of this video I recently came across– it’s a cute little song about how Jesus and his followers actually Occupy Jerusalem.

    Anyways, here it is:

    Which, it has a point.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      Nice idea, isn’t it, Kristen? I like that: Occupy Jerusalem… :)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Chris Kuruda


    I genuinely apologize. I’ve felt very vulnerable lately, and as a fallible man, my knee jerk response was to bristle and throw barbs. I agree with your words, they are very concerned and full of love. I like to think I’m showing I can learn. I have decided not to respond to others who disparage The Christian Left movement, but instead “like” the remarks with which I agree.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      Chris, I totally understand. It’s hard lately, and harder for the Christians among us — what my family calls ‘Jesus’ Christians (those who walk the path of Jesus, as opposed to those who use Biblical text as slash&burn weaponry.

      I’m trying, too, to agree w/ the good, and ignore the bad. It’s just such a hard line for an engaged Buddhist to walk: when does just turning towards the light become tacit compliance w/ evil? Years ago, when I first attended a UU church here, I heard the minister say that far too many liberals pretend their moral laziness is ‘tolerance.’ And it’s not.

      So I wasn’t sure I’d been as loving in my voice as I wish I could be… I’m so sorry it’s hard right now. This election is tearing at all of us, I think…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Chris Kuruda

    Britton Gildersleeve, The creation of the Religious Right is documented and can be followed. It was built as a scaffold upon which to gain political advantage through the acquisition of prosperity and power over others. “Everybody is welcome at the table” is the mantra of the Christian Left. I have been told by your people on the Right that if I am a liberal I am not a Christian and that I am satanic and in a cult. You tell me which one is hating, Britton Gildersleeve. I think you are hateful.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      Chris, I’m not certain where you got the idea that I’m part of the Christian Right. As a Buddhist, & a Unitarian, I’m about as far from the Right as it comes. And I’m particularly sorry that you found anything I said hateful. :( The intent of the post to which you respond was to affirm much of what you are saying: many ersatz Christians co-opt the words of Jesus to use as weapons against those w/ whom they disagree. Again, so sorry I wasn’t clear enough.

  • Big Gay Al

    I tend to disagree with a lot of different groups, on both sides of the political spectrum. However, I would never deny their right to say what they want to. As long as their speech doesn’t incite to riot, or violence against others. I will even fight for their right to say what they think.

    And I must say, I found your comments to be very eloquent.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      I don’t believe in denying people their inalienable rights either; pretty much the same parameters as yours. Once I heard that it’s not free speech if we don’t support EVERY ONE’s right to use it :). But trying to pretend that hate is a religion founded on love is weird to me, and (I hate to seem Pollyanna, but here goes) so unkind. I’ve never gotten the need to be so hateful and mean-spirited… Thanks for the kind comment.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cat Walsh

    Great essay. As a fellow Unitarian living in the bible belt, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who profess to be devout Christians yet refuse to follow the teachings of Christ.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deborah

    @Ron, please do Miss Britton the favor of reading her article for content. She clearly states that our ad (I’m a member of The Christian Left)was pulled. She never stated that page was removed from FB. You will see us on Rachel Maddow if that ever happens.

  • brittongildersleeve

    Yes, Ron, the Christian Left is still on Facebook. However, the ad they placed w/ Facebook is not. For more information, you might query the Christian Left, who picked up this blog and posted it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ron Huber

    Important detail. The Christian Left facebook page is alive and well

    Happily the facts don’t accord with the point you are making, which is stilla good point, though…pointless in this venue,

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Paula Walters

    Thank you for a wonderful post-you are so right. It is evident that you have not and will not ever drink the “Kool-aid”. I particularly loved your comment about the Bible being written and interpreted by men-infallible human beings. Having taught English to people from all over the world, I can attest to the spirituality that so many who sincerely practice their religion have-and unlike Christian zealots here, they respect other religions.

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